Owner Review

2010 BMW M3 review

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What’s your car this time?
It’s a 2010 BMW E92 M3; Alpine White with a CF roof and M-DCT (i.e. dual clutch transmission)

Didn’t you have one of these before?
Yes. In 2017 I traded my old 2009 E92 M3 in for a BMW i8. I’ve still got the i8, but after giving my youngest child my 2008 Benz A170 (for her university in a foreign town; Sydney) I found myself needing another daily beater and so I bought this.

What are the specs?
Despite being over a decade since the first E92 M3 came out, the specifications are still reasonable although, in today’s terms, unremarkable. Power is 309kW with a dribbling 400Nm of torque. Performance is still adequate and the 0-100km/h times are stated at 4.6 seconds (BMW literature) and as low as 4.3 seconds. It’s got a limited top speed of 250km/h, but its actual top speed is estimated at around 280km/h. The performance figures, however, are not the whole story.

Well, what else is there?
The car was designed to handle in track conditions and, I’m told, does so competently. For track conditions, they recommend changing the stock brakes, but in everyday driving they’re more than adequate. In this day of electronic steering, it’s hard to imagine the E92’s superb hydraulic rack getting grief for being 'too vague', but this is in comparison to the E46 M3 – a car I’ve not driven although is given high handling praise. Nevertheless, I’ve found the steering precise and the car well equipped for daily driving in Canberra.

Any car this age is going to be missing modern technology. Still, it was well featured when it was released. It came with adaptive headlights, automatic mirrors and wipers, electronic front seats with driver’s side memory, cruise control (braking and not adaptive), a good sat-nav screen, climate control, ABS, shift lights and a moveable redline depending on oil temperature. It’s missing the modern features on the current M3, such as a HUD, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and AEB.

Kryptonite points?
I believe most cars have their weak spots. These are the bits where the engineers get it wrong and it happens across the board. To give two high end examples: in the 996 Porsche 911 there was the IMS bearing problem and in the Ferrari 458 Italia there was the flammable glue problem. In the E92 M3 the weaknesses (and I’m not an engineer, so only going by received wisdom from the Internet!) are:

  • Rod bearings. The original RBs had tight clearances and aftermarket bearings from VAC and BE have slightly increased clearances.
  • Throttle actuators. The theory is the original reduction gears were made from Fisher-Price plastic and as they wore they stressed the electronics which, in turn, overheated and failed. The 'fix' is usually better manufactured reduction gears, which may work to reduce stress on the electronics. However, once the MOFSETs in the board go, then the only fix is to buy new throttle actuators. Note: it seems that once one TA fails, the other fails shortly afterwards so if replacing or repairing them, it’s recommended to do both.
  • Leaking M-DCT oil pan. This happened on my previous M3. The M-DCT oil pan is plastic and many of these cars will exhibit a slow leak. My take is the M-DCT oil should be changed every 100,000km anyway, so this leak is really a reminder to do good maintenance.

There are other issues that crop up, such as broken seatbelt handover springs and cold air valves, but outside of these main issues the car is usually quite reliable to run. However, if you buy these secondhand, remember you will be paying for parts belonging to a $160,000 car, not a $60,000 car.

Fuel economy?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha…

Do you like it?
Love it. Despite all the worry points and age, this car is still outstanding to drive. Like all E9x M3 owners, I harbour the fantasy it will become a future collectable, but I dare say most of the depreciation has already occurred so I could keep the car for three-to-five years and not make too much of a loss when (If?!) it comes time to sell it.

For those thinking of buying one the usual maintenance caveats apply. The E9x M3 needs to be properly maintained and an owner should be prepared to replace almost anything… up to, and including, the engine. Thing is, most of these cars are now outside any warranty and if you’re not prepared to maintain the car then it’s more than likely to become an expensive mistake.

Final words?
As much as I’m enamoured of the current crop of M cars, particularly the M2 Competition that I was fortunate to drive, I find that the E92 M3 gives me 'a lot of' the same experience on 'lot less' money. Don’t get me wrong – should I win lotto then I’ll be plopping a deposit down for an F90 M5 Competition, McLaren 720S or Porsche 911 GT2 RS – depending on the size of the win; but I would still keep this M3 as my daily driver.

Yup. Love this car.

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